I think most might agree that when I say the highlight of my days as a child was lunchtime – not because of the fabulous school lunches (tater tots and Ellio’s Pizza, I’m looking at you!), but rather because half-way through the lunch hour, the doors to the playground opened and we could play tag, swing to our hearts content, shoot hoops, try not to perish on the monkey bars… I really could go on, because the truth is: I loved recess.
Fast forward to now. Ever notice how carefree that time in our life was in retrospect? As we get older the benefits of taking breaks, having that mental “recess,” becomes more and more important. And likewise, as time goes on, there is no one telling us when to take one, so it becomes imperative to carve time out of our busy schedules to make time for ourselves. We were lucky enough to speak with Sharon Kolkka, general manager and wellness director of Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, who knows all about the benefits of taking breaks, to get the low-down on why recess really shouldn’t stop in grade school, as well as how we can find time to make taking a break a priority.
Being exhausted every day is not living… it’s existing
Deadlines, meeting requests, rush hour – I don’t know about you but I feel like now more than ever, I’d really appreciate a good game of four-square, and I’m not talking about the app. “As our lives continue to be busy and we become more and more connected online, our downtime becomes affected, perhaps even reduced,” explains Kolkka. “The consequence is that so many of us now are tired all the time. Being exhausted every day is not living, it is existing.”
This constant state of “busy lives, busy minds, and too little downtime” is just not sustainable over a long period of time, Kolkka goes on. Enter the importance of taking breaks.“Taking a break for any amount of time is like pressing pause,” says Kolkka. “It can help you reflect on your life. You can look at where you can create some more space, some more quiet. It’s vital we remember that we can be busy but be relaxed; we can be productive and not be stressed.”
Kolkka encourages us to press pause, step back, and view our lives from a different perspective. Feel like you are just way too swamped to take a moment to yourself? Try to follow at least one of these tips to press pause and take a break in your own life:
1. “Ensure you stop and eat lunch – every day,” Kolkka says. Take at least 20 to 30 minutes, even if you have a busy day, to stop what you are doing and eat a healthy lunch. Try to leave the office and take a walk to a nice deli, or if you can’t leave at the moment, put your work aside and read an interesting, non-work-related article. You’ll be amazed at how re-charged you feel after a short period of time.
2. “Every day find five to 10 minutes of quiet time just to sit and be still, and focus on the breath,” recommends Kolkka. Pressing pause for just five minutes for a short meditation can dramatically decrease your stress levels. Need some help with your breathing exercises? Check out a step-by-step guide for two effective exercises here.
3. Lastly, Kolkka asks, “When was the last real break you had? Just a couple of days away can be enough to recharge your spirit and your energy, especially if you can make it a digital detox and reduce all the incoming noise and information as well.”
4. Warmer weather and longer days provide the perfect scenario for taking a break – take a nod from those grade school days and turn half your lunch hour (or half-hour) into recess. Take a short walk, browse a bookstore, go for a smoothie – but just be sure to take the time to take a break!
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